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Dominick Blaylock has gotten off to a strong start for Georgia.

As Georgia passing offense looks to improve, it can continue to count on Dominick Blaylock

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The quiet excellence of Georgia football freshman Dominick Blaylock

Every time Georgia freshman wide receiver George Pickens steps on the field, he announces himself in some way. Whether it be with a bone-rattling block or his attempt at making an unreal catch, Pickens wants the opposing defense to know he’s on the field.

He feeds off that attention, knowing that he can get the best of the opposing defender. He plays the game of football much like Georgia offensive lineman Cade Mays does. Physical, nasty and usually mean.

But as for the other Georgia freshman wide receiver — the one who is leading the team in receiving yards and tied for the team lead in touchdowns —Dominick Blaylock plays much more like Andrew Thomas. He’s quiet. He’s not some hulking monster but rather a burglar who silently maneuvers his way around the secondary before plucking the ball from the air.

“He doesn’t flash, but he’s really sneaky good at everything,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said. “He’s a guy who’s really polished in what he does, he came in, really smart and intelligent kid, and he does a really good job of catching the football and going out and getting open. You don’t think about it, the guy just always gets open.”

Despite not playing Georgia’s first game against Vanderbilt, Blaylock leads Georgia in receiving yards after the first month of the season with 179. He’s caught 9 passes and 2 touchdowns. He’s also taken reps as Georgia’s punt returner.

Blaylock’s strong start shouldn’t come as a total surprise. He is the second-highest-rated wide receiver Georgia has signed over the past decade and was the No. 36 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class.

Related: Dominick Blaylock found a homegrown fit at UGA

Blaylock excelled at Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., and did so in a variety of roles. He lined up at wide receiver, running back and even wildcat quarterback. In his senior season, he finished with 18 touchdowns. He then went to All-American Bowl in January, and against some of the best prospects in the 2019 recruiting cycle, caught two touchdowns.

“Anywhere he’s gone he’s been one of the most competitive people on the field, and he’s continued that trend at our place by outworking people and just busting his tail,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said of Blaylock.

Blaylock wasn’t an early enrollee, meaning he had to join the team over the summer. That did put him at a bit of disadvantage to start his career, given some of the guys in front of him had more experience. The reason Blaylock didn’t play against Vanderbilt wasn’t because of something he wasn’t doing. It was more because of Kearis Jackson and Demetris Robertson having a better understanding of the Georgia offense.

But in addition to Blaylock’s hard work, he’s also been able to stay healthy. Jackson broke his hand in win over Vanderbilt, while Robertson missed time due to a lower extremity injury. Add in that Tyler Simmons has been slowed by a shoulder injury, Georgia has had to turn to Blaylock.

And so far, he’s delivered. He scored a touchdown in his first career game against Murray State. Then against Arkansas State, he became the first Georgia receiver since Isaiah McKenzie in 2016 to finish with over 100 yards in a game.

The touchdown he had in that game looked similar to the one he scored in the All-American Bowl. He caught a simple out route, cut up the field, and just kept going and going until he found himself in the endzone.

That play shows off all the traits that Georgia defensive back Mark Webb used to describe the freshman.

“He’s very fast. He has a great understanding of the game,” Webb said. “He really knows where to be, like passing concepts. He always knows where to be, so if you think you’ve got him guarded, he just moves somewhere else.”

Blaylock isn’t yet a perfect player, as he does have room to grow as a blocker. And he did get a talking to from Smart after he let a punt roll an extra 15 yards in the Notre Dame game because he didn’t catch the ball in the air. There was also a Fromm pass in the Notre Dame win that he just missed hauling in for a significant game.

While the freshman wide receiver has worked hard to just get to this point, he has to keep going. Jackson will return to action this week against Tennessee and Robertson has shown he can be an explosive playmaker as well.

There’s a quietness about Blaylock that is rare to the wide receiver position. While at the position tends to be littered with more Antonio Brown and Terrell Owens types, Blaylock is a stark difference. He’s never demanding attention or calling for the ball like a desperate New Yorker trying to hawk down a taxi.

But as Georgia’s descends deeper into the season, and the scrutiny and spotlight on the Georgia passing offense intensifies, it’s going to need more of that quiet excellence from Blaylock if the Bulldogs are going to keep up with the nation’s elite teams.

“I love the way he works. He never complains,” Smart said. “He just goes out there and puts his best forward each and every day, and we need him to continue doing that because it’s a position that we’ve been light at, and he’s a position guy that can help us at the wide receiver spot.”

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